My career as a teacher has been a bit of a struggle. All I ever wanted was to stay at one school for my 30 years of service. The universe has determined otherwise. I have been teaching for 6 years now at 5 different schools. I have been a high school history teacher and now I am a librarian. I thought this made me a bad teacher. Only bad teachers have to switch schools all the time right?
Wrong! My husband describes me as the Mary Poppins of teachers. A person who goes from school to school helping students and then moving on to help someone else. I remembered this as I faced another school change but I struggled to just make it to summer vacation.
I entered summer looking for a way out and searching for a light at the end of the tunnel. That light came in July. Recently, I attended my first Nerd Camp. I went to a session on unconference day called “How to Break the Rules Gently.” During the session I spoke out about my school killing the love of reading and how frustrated I am with my job overall. I was amazed by the support I received from the people in that room and felt better after the session was over. I realized that even if I am alone in my district, I had all the nerd campers to help me.
At the end of the day it is the words of a former student that affirmed for me my greatness as a teacher. Before I switched schools again I worked as a Technology Facilitator. A former student friended me on Facebook. He recently posted a new picture so I asked how he was and if he was looking forward to middle school. He told me that I was one of his favorite teachers. This meant a lot since I only saw him every 12 days of school due to our specials rotation. Of course this led to more reflection of all the students I have helped. This is the short list of ones I know:
School 1: First year teacher: I had a student named Tameka. She was a Senior and had to complete all her history classes that year. She was missing a lot of school and always came in late. I assured her that if she came to school and completed her assignments she would pass her classes. She also never thought of going to college because she said she wasn’t smart enough. I encouraged her to consider college because I knew she could do it. She passed everything and went to college. She found me on myspace and thanked me for making her come to school and telling her to apply for college.
School 2: I had a Autistic student named Jacob. He hated lunch because being around all those other kids made him nervous. I opened my classroom to him so he could have a stress free lunch everyday. At the end of the year he thanked me for being nice to him.
School 3: I had a student named Eric who wanted to play for the NFL. He was a smart kid but got himself mixed up in the wrong crowd. I told him to make it to the NFL he could hangout with his friends in the hall but he had to work in the classroom. He received a scholarship to UNC and is currently playing in the NFL.
What’s the point? Even if you are struggling as a teacher. If there are days where you feel like you should not be a teacher. Remember that you are helping a student somewhere. Teach your kids and love your kids. If you do that then you are doing your job.